A note of discord was sounded at the borough council on Monday over moves to have the BBC’s spectacular show ‘Proms in the Park’ staged within the next few years in Lurgan Park against the backdrop of Brownlow House.
The council agreed on an Orange-Green vote to approach the BBC to bring the event to Lurgan – the NI sector of the UK-wide show has been staged at the Titanic Quarter, at Belfast City Hall, Hillsborough House and Carrickfergus Castle, starring the likes of flautist James Galway and soprano Lesley Garrett.
The issue was raised by Councillor Carla Lockhart who said it would really put Lurgan on the map – “especially with the rousing chorus of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ and The Proms being one of the most prestigious events in the BBC’s calendar”.
She added it would further enhance the prestige of “Lurgan’s magnificent park, the second largest in Ireland which attracts up to 2,000 visitors a day, and where the recent investments and improvements have totally eliminated anti-social behaviour”.
She added that the superb backdrop of Brownlow House – “which goes back to 1836” – would enhance the vista as well as the beautiful fountain in the park.
Councillor Phil Moutray seconded the proposal to approach the BBC, adding such an event would attract 8,000 visitors on the night and would be viewed by millions across the UK on television.
Cold water was cast upon the idea by Councillor Joe Nelson who claimed that a business plan, laying out the cost to the council, should have been prepared in the appropriate committee, “rather than it being brought up cold in a full meeting, but then I suppose election time is approaching and campaigning is starting”.
He tabled an amendment to that effect, but it was voted down 13-6 along party lines. During further discussion Councillor Meta Crozier said that during her term as Mayor (1995-96) the BBC had been approached on the same issue. “They would have preferred that the event would take place in the grounds of Brownlow House rather than the park,” she added. “But the grounds could not have accommodated the crowds.”
She added that the BBC planned years ahead for such an event, and it would well into the life of the new ABC council before a decision was reached. “But I’ll support it, anyway.”
After the Nelson amendment failed, the Lockhart motion went through 13-2, with the two SDLP members (Joe Nelson and Declan McAlinden) against, and Sinn Fein abstaining.
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